Buzz: Pitino Admits to Affair With His (Alleged) Extortionist

Posted by rtmsf on August 11th, 2009

Blockbuster news out of Louisville tonight, as the Courier-Journal is reporting that Rick Pitino admitted to police that he had consensual sex with Karen Sypher, the woman who allegedly tried to extort him for houses, cars and money.  The police reports show that Pitino had sex in a restaurant (all class, Rick!) with Sypher on August 1, 2003, and later gave her $3000 for an abortion as a result of that tryst.  Sypher has since alleged that Pitino raped her on that occasion as well as one other time, but prosecutors have to date resisted bringing charges on the matter, citing issues of Sypher’s credibility.  While the federal extortion charges remain against Sypher, we wonder whether this revelation might swing public opinion in Louisville more in favor of Sypher.  Probably not – after all, Pitino has two straight Elite Eights under his belt.

Follow-up Post: Pitino’s Sex in the Champagne Room

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07.20.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on July 20th, 2009

Is there a worse time of year for roundball fans than July/August?  Well, is there?  Let’s see what’s been cooking over the last week or so…

  • Economics, NCAA Style.  Have you guys heard that we’re in a recession – that the economy may not exactly be whirring along at a blistering pace?  Inevitably, college athletic departments are starting to feel the crunch nearly as much as your local Citibastard – some are cutting expenses such as chartered flights and media guides, while even the venerable and uber-rich Stanford athletic department is cutting employees.  Meanwhile, schools such as UCLA, Cal, and others are instituting high-dollar seat licensing fees (we’re talking hundreds of thousands) to finance their stadium renovations and attend their games for the next quarter-century.  Crisis is another word for opportunity, and we’re wondering if the current economic climate will only provide leverage for the NCAA haves (Florida, Texas, Ohio St., UCLA, etc.) to exploit and exacerbate the widening gap between themselves and the have-nots by using private equity as the hammer.  The NCAA ADs have given lip service to construct a more equitable model of competition for its member institutions, but like the Yankees/Red Sox freight train in MLB, the arms race inertia is already accelerating downhill and moving too quickly to be stopped.  The final solution may ultimately have to be a separation of BCS schools from the remainder of D1, and to get there, you have to pay to play.   
  • 2009 ACC/Big Ten Challenge.  Last year we had very high hopes that the Big Ten would finally get off the mat and win one of these challenges.  Alas, MSU took its first of two emasculations at the hands of UNC last year in Ford Field, and the Midwesterners lost 6-5.  This year’s schedule is out, and unfortunately for the Big Ten, our first glance reveals that the odds are significantly in the ACC’s favor to win this event again.  The Monday and Tuesday night games (Nov. 30 and Dec. 1) favor home teams Virginia, NC State, UNC, Purdue and Iowa, but we’d expect the ACC to break serve by Maryland winning in Bloomington for an early 4-2 lead.  Even with a Dec. 2 slate that favors the Big Ten, with Michigan and OSU holding serve at home to match Clemson, we’d expect Minnesota to get a road win at Miami (FL) only for the league to fall on its face again when Duke does what it does and rips Wisconsin a new one in the Kohl Center.  The ACC wins again, 6-5.  We have it coming down to three road winners, with the ACC taking two of them (Maryland and Duke).  How do you see it?
  • UConn Savior?  This was quiet over the weekend but we find it to be a significant piece of news out of the UConn program, which is that the oft-confounding Ater Majok has committed that he will indeed play for Jim Calhoun’s Huskies next season.  Majok’s eligibility has been a wild ride for UConn faithful, beginning a year-plus ago with his verbal commitment and two semesters of classwork in Storrs, only to be followed by a flirtation with the NBA Draft (withdrawing) and lucrative professional options overseas.  The versatile 6’10 forward will help Calhoun shore up a somewhat inexperienced frontcourt led by returnees Stanley Robinson and Gavin Edwards, and if the reports of his potential are true, could provide an offensive force on the blocks to relieve some of the pressure from the very talented perimeter tandem of Kemba Walker and Jerome Dyson.  Major good news for the UConn program, which has taken its share of hits the past few months.   
  • Quick Hits.  Noel Johnson: the former USC recruit will end up at ClemsonDave Bliss: resurfaces in Texas (not coaching, thank God).  Karen Sypher: no merit to her complaint against PitinoTark the Shark: his spinal surgery delayedKeno Davisextended through 2016Al-Farouq Aminu: looking to dominate in 2009-10Larry Sanders: thinking first round next season.  Renardo Sidney: Part 1 of the NCAA inquiryLance Stephenson: much ado about disorderly conductJared Sullinger: another in a run of Buckeye bigsHarrison Barnes: get used to that nameMichael Gilchrist: another World Wide Wes guy with no chance at a childhoodSeth Davis: analyzes the top players on the summer recruiting circuitSouth Carolina: in violation of impermissible snackage.
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06.24.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on June 24th, 2009

What’s this?  Two days in a row with FBs?  Indeed.  There’s a lot to get caught up on…

  • Duke Downer.  The biggest news today was the news that Duke point guard Elliot Williams (he of the happy, happy feet) will be leaving the Duke program so that he can move closer to Memphis, his hometown.  Reportedly his mother is facing a life-threatening illness there and Williams wants to be nearby for support as she battles her disease.  He plans on petitioning the NCAA to waive the one-year transfer obligation so that he will be able to play immediately at his new school (presumably Memphis).  This is undoubtedly a major blow to Coach K’s backcourt in 2009-10, as he’ll now be left with only Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith to log minutes there.  Big things were expected of Williams based on his insertion into the starting lineup at midseason and his excellent all-around play down the stretch.  Duke fans are largely crushed by this news, given the unfortunate circumstances causing it as well as the huge, gaping hole in the backcourt it leaves (while, ironically, the perfect fix named Seth Curry can only wait and watch next season).  In other Duke news that came out today, Coach K is the highest paid Duke employee by far ($3.6M last year) – no surprise there.
  • Like Father, Not Like Son.  A bit of a surprise today is that Jeffrey Jordan (you know, that Mike guy’s son) is ending his basketball career at Illinois to focus on his studies.  This comes on the heels of news from earlier this year that Jordan’s hard work and commitment to the program had resulted in a scholarship for the rest of his time at the school.  Guess he’d had enough.  Actually, we can totally understand this.  Jordan was undeniably under more pressure to perform than any walk-on turned scholarship player in the history of college basketball, and although it made for nice copy, it’s safe to say that Jordan probably didn’t love the sport anywhere near the same as his famous dad.  He probably reached a personal epiphany of some kind that included a heart-to-heart with pops, and once MJ gave him the blessing, he’s now free to pursue the activities he truly enjoys.  Good for him.  And good for him for working his tail off in his two years at Illinois to go from walk-on to scholarship to expected contributor, despite limited talent.
  • Vegas, Baby.  The WAC has followed its mid-major brethren WCC and Mountain West Conferences by moving its postseason tournament to Las Vegas, where the Orleans Arena will host beginning in 2011.  This comes on the heels of a very successful WCC Tournament at the Orleans last year, where a sold-out, raucous arena was shown on national television for St. Mary’s vs. Gonzaga.  The MWC already holds its conference tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center down the street, and this move by the WAC means that Vegas will become the basketball destination for every legitimate conference (save the Pac-10) west of the Rockies every March.  Sounds like a really fun environment for fans of these leagues.
  • No, No, NoEveryone got this wrongDerrick Rose wasn’t flashing a gang sign in the below pic, he was practicing universal remote hand signals for the letter “B” on the SAT exam.

derrick rose hand signals

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What’s Going On With Pitino?

Posted by rtmsf on June 10th, 2009

Ok, we’re going to put our tin foil hat on here for a few minutes.  It’s summer, and nobody is reading this anyway.  But we’re really having trouble understanding the news today that Holy Cross head coach Ralph Willard (and longtime Pitino buddy) will leave his successful, self-made program in Worcester, Mass. to become an assistant coach at Louisville.

Read that again: assistant coach at Louisville.


To open our conspiracy theory, let’s consider all the reasons that Willard shouldn’t have so much as considered this job, much less taken it.

  • Willard’s been a head coach for the last 19 years, first at Western Kentucky, then at Pitt, and spending the last decade at Holy Cross.
  • Holy Cross is Willard’s alma mater (Class of 1967), and he’s turned down other head coaching opportunities at higher profile places to stay there.
  • Willard is arguably HC’s best coach ever.  In ten seasons he’s taken the Crusaders to four NCAA Tournaments as Patriot League champions, won 20+ games five times, and has gone 192-117 (.621) in his career there.  It’s safe to say that he could have held on to this job as long as he wanted it.
  • It wouldn’t be unfathomable to believe that his salary, even at a Patriot League school, was higher than what Louisville can afford to pay its top assistant.  At worst, we’d expect the two to be comparable.

So in the spirit of 9/11 was Saddam’s Bush’s Israel’s doing paranoids everywhere, we have to wonder what the hell is going on here?

Then we started thinking… a lot has gone on at Louisville in the past few months.  To recap:

Throw that in with the persistent rumors of a nameless medical condition dogging Pitino, and it wouldn’t be outside a reasonable realm of possibility for us to think that Ralph Willard has been promised something to become Pitino’s insurance policy.  What if Pitino’s legal battles, familial problems and/or medical issues require him to take a leave of absence for a bit, similar to what Lute Olson did at Arizona?  Wouldn’t it make sense to have a friend he’s known and trusted for 40+ years ready to move in at the helm if necessary?  Or what if Pitino is once again feeling his well-documented propensity for wanderlust, and although he wasn’t interested in taking the Kings job this spring, he would be interested in other more high-profile NBA/college jobs should they open up?  In that situation, he could essentially pull a Dean Smith/Bill Guthridge and leave the Louisville post to his top guy.

Or this could all be nonsense, chalked up to people sometimes doing irrational things, and we’re completely off base in our analysis.  You’ll excuse us as we now go watch the Apollo 11 space landing in Arizona from the comfort of our alien-built spaceship in Area 51 while riffing some fresh beats with 2Pac and Biggie.

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Pitino: Target of Extortion Attempt

Posted by nvr1983 on April 18th, 2009

It looks like we might have an interesting situation developing in Louisville where head coach Rick Pitino announced earlier this evening that he was the target of an extortion attempt. Some message board pundits believe this might be related to someone trying to sell a story about an affair or something along those lines  and we would have to agree since Pitino’s statement doesn’t make it seem like there was some kind of organized crime syndicate involved (too many Law & Order re-runs at the RTC East HQ). [Ed. Note: We would have went with someone threatening to remind the media about Pitino’s time in Boston, but that would be blackmail since there would be “substantial truth” to that.]

Credit: Deadspin

Credit: Deadspin

We’ll be following the story as it unfolds since it is just about the only thing going on in college basketball that doesn’t involve coaching changes, recruiting, or the NBA Draft.

UPDATE: It looks like the message board pundits were right and the lucky lady appears to be Karen Sypher, the wife of Louisville equipment manager Tim Sypher, according to reports out of Lexington. We don’t know much about her except for what we believe is a picture of her (below).

Umm. Nice hat. . . (Credit: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News)

Umm. Nice hat. . . (Credit: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News)

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